How often do you find yourself deflecting blame that comes your way? If you forgot to send an important email or didn’t do the dishes like your spouse asked you to and they question you about it, what is your response? “I was too busy.” “I ran out of time.” “I forgot!” or my personal favorite, “I would have been able to accomplish that if you hadn’t…”, etc. It seems that more and more people lack that ever important quality of humility. We act like an impenetrable shield, blocking incoming blame our way and deflecting it to others. Sometimes we deflect blame on things that can’t defend themselves. “If the dog wouldn’t have…” “If I didn’t have to fix that broken…”, etc. So how does one gain humility in a society of ever-growing egos?
The mirror is a good starting place. Have you ever stopped for a few minutes and just looked in the mirror? Looked into your own eyes and just thought about what type of person you are? In my first blog entry I discussed how people are responsible for their own choices and thus, control their own lives. Have you looked into your own soul and told yourself that you are in control? I hadn’t until my brother gave me “The Traveler’s Gift” By Andy Andrews. Andy does a fantastic job explaining this concept. We are where we are in life because of decisions that we’ve made. And that’s good news because if we controlled how we got here then we control where we go from here. We all have to accept personal responsibility for our own lives. No one else controls my life, but me. We are all connected, so how can this be?
Let’s say the university you attend randomly selects your roommate for your freshman year at college. Y’all are both fresh from high school, so in essence y’all are starting out all on your own for the first time. After a couple months you notice that your roommate hasn’t been going to class as much as he was at the beginning of the semester. You also notice that he’s increasingly less hygienic and you suspect that he has begun to do drugs with a group of friends he has that doesn’t match your lifestyle. Despite some warning flags when the semester is over you continue to be roommates in your second semester. The drug problem has really manifested at this point and your roommate even has started doing drugs in the dorm room. There is a random inspection by the Resident Assistant (R.A.) one day and they call the cops after the suspected drug use. You are charged with your roommate and get kicked out of the dorm! Your natural reaction is to be furious with the “stupid” roommate that went down a bad path and that dragged you down with him; however, that’s not how I see this situation.
As soon as your roommate began skipping class, did you inquire about his lack of motivation? No? Then you chose not to inquire. When you saw your roommate hanging out with less desirables did you request to the university or your R.A. to switch dorms or at least roommates? When you noticed the drugs in the dorm, did you let the R.A. or authorities know immediately? If you didn’t act on any of these things then why are you blaming the roommate? Ultimately it’s your choices that dictate your path.
I know there are exceptions to every rule, but I learned at a young age a generally accepted principle that I fear many have not learned as I have. If you make bad choices, bad things will happen to you. Now we can get into a lengthy debate about what constitutes “bad,” but I’m old school when it comes to defining “bad.” Bad is giving into temptations that are damaging to your potential future, bad is deciding to drive drunk after having too many drinks, bad is influencing others to fall into addiction with you, bad is being envious of others while not striving to obtain things that you desire, bad is striving to obtain things over experiencing love, bad is being greedy and not giving to charity, bad is giving into lust and not respecting women, bad is spending more than you make, bad is rationalizing poor choices instead of learning from them, bad is eating too much and not exercising, bad is not taking responsibility and blaming others for your failures. Most of these decisions happen when we aren’t paying attention. Most of these decisions occur when we let our mind run on autopilot. Making decisions without thinking about them at all and letting our human instincts dictate our lives. We are hungry, so we eat. Those bright shiny golden arches look good. Like a fly to a bug zapper we roll on into that drive thru.
I also believe that if you make good choices, good things will happen to you. Good is deciding to stop eating ice cream before going to bed, good is deciding to take nightly walks with your spouse, good is packing a healthy lunch before going to work or school instead of eating fast food, good is being grateful for what you have, good is reading inspirational or motivational material a little bit each day, good is being mindful of those you surround yourself with, good is saving for your future or your kids’ futures, and good is accepting responsibility for your choices and actions.
So if you find yourself depressed or upset about a certain aspect of your life visit your mirror. Reflect on the choices that you made that led you to this unsatisfactory state. What choices impacted your path the most? Which choices can you learn from? What choices can you make going forward to bring you to where you want to be?